Linden Hill Imports
Sukhoi Su-27K/ Su-33 'Sea Flanker'
The first Sukhoi Su-27K (K = Korabelny, Ship-Borne) proper (company designation T10K-1) made its first flight on 17 August 1987 piloted by Viktor Pugachev. This featured canard foreplanes, twin nosewheels, folding wings and tailplanes, beefed up maingear, a revised shortened tailboom, an offset IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) ball, a retractable in-flight refuelling probe and an arrestor hook. Not immediately apparent and not reported in the western press, is the fact that the wing has a greater area than that of its land-based cousin (67.80 sq m against 62 sq m for the>standard= Su-27). This is achieved by having a less swept trailing edge incorporating full span, three-section flaps with the inboard sections operating symetrically and the outboard sections differentially as ailerons. This increased area is apparent where the trailing edge meets the fin - it is further back along the fin chord on the naval variant.
Modelling the Su-27K / Su-33>Sea Flanker=
This conversion uses the Airfix single-seat Flanker kit as a basis. Whilst it is an awful kit in terms of sink marks and fit, it is , in my opinion, the most accurate Su-27 Flanker kit in 1:72 scale currently available. Italeri produce a so-called>Sea Flanker= kit, but simply adding canards that are butt-joined to the existing LERX and providing a twin-wheel nosegear and arrestor hook, does not a Su-27K make!
This is a major conversion of the basic Airfix kit requiring the addition of the prominent mounting shoulders for the canards, the canards themselves, a revised tailboom, an offset IRST ball, refuelling probe, new nosegear, increased-area wing and a tailhook. Being perverse, I also wanted to incorporate folded wings and tailplanes to illustrate the differences between the land and sea based variants of the Flanker.
The first job is to paint and detail the cockpit to taste. The Su-27K cockpit is the same as a >standard= one and does not have the multi-function displays nor the side-stick controller of the Su-35/37. (excuse my bare knees !). Replace the kit seat with a better representation of a K-36 seat - there are plenty of commercially available ones around. Before cementing the fuselage halves together, I cut out an oval slot for the refuelling probe and added an inner wall from plastic card - see the Italeri Su-34 kit for example. Add the airbrake and cement the nose in place. I always add the nose probe (Part 6) and blend in with filler but remove the extreme tip and put aside until later to avoid breaking it off during construction.
The small platform on the starboard side of the windscreen that forms the base of the offset IRST ball was made from Milliput shaped whilst still wet - The canards are mounted on substantial >shoulders= that extend forward from the wing roots and blend into the forward fuselage in a smooth curve. To make these shoulders, cut two pieces of plastic card to shape and super glue to the forward LERX - I filed a flat onto the edge of the LERX to provide a greater contact area for the plastic card.
Build up the shoulders with Milliput and blend into the wing/fuselage with a wet finger whilst the Milliput is still pliable. I taped over the cannon muzzle to avoid damaging it during the application and subsequent rubbing down. Try to achieve a smooth transition between the existing plastic and the Milliput and round off the edges - particularly at the wing root. A careful study of photographs of canard-equipped Flankers will pay dividends in getting the shape just right, as will a look at the Su-34 kit -Photo 3 shows my model with its new shoulders blended into the LERX.
If you want to model an open canopy (and this applies to all Flanker single-seat variants), carefully remove the moulded decking behind the cockpit opening and replace it with plastic card. This decking rises with the canopy and should be put aside until later.
The naval Flanker has a shortened tailboom that lacks the chaff/flare boxes and in side profile is raised higher compared to the >standard= tailboom. To model this, first remove the moulded boom by sawing through the fuselage between the engines forward to about 7cm from its tip, completely removing the boom and the underside rear pylon mounting bracket. The new boom is mounted above the fuselage with no part of it protruding below the fuselage in the area between the engines - in a similar manner to the Su-34 model - although obviously not so huge !
Fill the area on the underside with a piece of plastic card cut to shape - The new boom is made from a suitable sized length of rod. Mine is a 60mm long section cut from an 8mm dia plastic knitting needle. With the end carved to a conical point, the new boom sits on top of the plastic card insert and extends 26mm aft of the jetpipe apertures. The whole new tailboom is blended in with filler until all joints are made invisible -
The modeller has two choices with the wings - extended or folded. I chose the latter, but if you don=t want to go through the major surgery required then extended wings are an easier option, though some work is still needed.
Because the Su-27K=s wings are bigger, you can=t just add the Airfix wings - they need to be modified. To achieve this I would recommend sawing off the trailing edge along the panel line just forward of the flaps. Add a wedge-shaped section of plastic card of suitable thickness to the rear of the wing and re-cement the trailing edge back onto the wing so that the root chord is increased by 4mm but the wingtip chord remains the same. You may have to add a sliver of plastic card to the flap root as it now meets the fuselage at a slightly different angle. Carefully blend in the new insert and re-scribe new flaps. Add a representation of the wing fold joint from plastic card with a zipper effect scribed onto it. This stands proud of the surface and is very prominent -
This is a more difficult option but I think it best shows the fact that it is indeed a naval variant and has the most visual differences to the other Flankers in my collection. The folded wings on the Su-27K adopt a quite distinct configuration with the inner, unfolded portion having the flaps retracted but the slats down, whilst the folded outer section has the slats retracted but the flaps drooped (but not extended) in order to clear the fin.
To model this configuration I decided to use the wings from the Nakotne/Encore Su-27 kit as this provides separate flaps and slats. These were combined with the Airfix wings to provide the necessary arrangement.
Remove both outer portions from the lower wing stubs from the Airfix kit kit by sawing along a line 18mm from the root. Remove the locating stubs from the upper parts of the Nakotne Su-27 wings and make the same cut on this, retaining the outer sections for later. Cement these inner, upper sections to the Airfix stubs making sure that their top surfaces line up with the fuselage at the root - you may have to add packing to achieve this. Add pieces of plastic card to the upper trailing edge to give the same chord as the Airfix stubs. Remove a length from the Nakotne Su-27 slats cut to the same span as the inner wings and cement in place drooped at approximately 20 deg, adding plastic rod to fill the gap at the top between the slat and wing.
For the trailing edge flaps, remove the trailing edge from the Airfix wings by sawing through along a line 18mm forward from the trailing edge at the root to 6mm forward of the trailing edge at the tip. Add plastic card to the undersides of the flaps to fill in the gap at the leading edge and separate the inner and outer sections of this flap to match the inner and outer wings. Cement the inner flap sections to the trailing edges of the inner wings in line with the airfoil - eg undrooped. The inner and outer ends of the flaps will have to be trimmed to fit as they are now at a slightly different angle to the original -
The outer (folded) wings consist of the Nakotne upper and lower surfaces, to which are added the Nakotne leading edge slats (undrooped) and the Airfix trailing edges drooped at an angle of approximately 30 deg. A section needs to be removed from the outer trailing edge of the Nakotne wings and pieces of plastic card added to the inner trailing edge before adding the flaps -
I replaced the awful Airfix wingtip pylons with plastic card copies of those in the Hasegawa kit. The mating faces of the inner and outer flaps have ducts visible when the wings are folded, so represent these with small holes drilled into the plastic - see the photos of the real thing accompanying this article.
To mount the finished wings at the correct angle, I drilled two holes in the inner wings with corresponding holes in the outers. Four short lengths of wire were bent to an angle of 54 deg and slotted into the holes. This provides a strong fixture and allows the angle to be adjusted after painting and final fitting. The wings are not permanently fixed at this stage so that they can be painted separately.
Unusually, the horizontal tailplanes on the Su-27K also fold to reduce their span for hangar stowage. To reproduce this, saw through the tailplanes 14mm from the root measured in front of the actuator covers. Cut one notch 8.5mm from the leading edge and another 11.5mm behind it in the outer face of the inner section. Add two square-section pieces of plastic card to the outer sections of the tailplanes to form the pivots. Superglue these in place for added strength.
The tailplanes on all Flankers at rest adopt a trailing-edge down attitude and this is true of the naval variant - so to model this, small pieces of plastic card are added to the front of the actuator covers on the top surface of the inner sections to extend them. Sanded and blended in, these allow the tailplanes to be fitted trailing edge down. Add a short length of wire just forward of the actuator to fit into a corresponding hole in the bottom of the fin booms for strength - Do not fit the tailplanes at this stage to make painting them easier.
Complete construction of the rest of the kit as per the instructions but leave off the RWR aerials (parts 3) and fill in their locating holes. The main undercarriage locking pin fairings (parts 22 & 23) need to be altered - they are much larger on the Su-27K. I added new ones cut from suitably sized bombs from the spares box - ( photo 8 shows the arrangement). Make canards from plastic card with pivots made from pins or raid the Nakotne Su-35 or Italeri Su-34 kits ! Do not fit them at this stage.
The main undercarriage on the Su-27K is beefed up to cater for no-flare carrier landings, with bigger locking pins and thicker legs. I used the Airfix kit items unmodified (they should really be made thicker) and added locking pins - this latter applies to all Flanker variants, they are not supplied in the Airfix kit.
The nosewheel is totally different, having twin wheels and is not the same as the Su-34/35 so those items cannot be used. . I made mine by removing the lower 2mm from kit part 7. A hole was drilled up into the leg and a short length of wire inserted. Onto this wire I added an 8mm length of aluminium tubing which neatly represents the chrome of the oleo. A short plastic collar was added to the bottom of the oleo and a plastic card axle was cemented to it using superglue throughout for strength - Photo 13 shows the finished article. Final additions were a scissor link to the rear, steering rams set at an angle above the oleo, a mounting bracket for the red/orange/green LSO signal lights, a tie-down ring cut from a sliver of tubing and the main landing lights. For the latter I used the Airfix items mounted at an angle instead of horizontal. The twin nosewheels are from the spares box. The kit windscreen needs to be modified to cater for the offset IRST ball. Carefully remove the moulded centreline IRST ball and re-polish the windscreen. Cement the windscreen in place and add an offset ball cut from a length of clear sprue shaped to match the windscreen. Mount this on its platform and carefully blend into the windscreen.
Checking all my references for photographs of Su-27K=s, I noticed that the few prototypes are distinctly darker than the the >standard= light blue/mid blue/light grey colour scheme and they had dark grey dielectic panels and radomes. However, I wanted to model an operational Sea Flanker and consulted the article by Richard Caruana in Scale Aviation Modeller dated 9 September 1996. In this he describes his visit to the Kuznetsov when she stopped in Malta during her recent Mediterranean cruise. He quotes a four-colour grey scheme giving FS numbers and accompanies the article with some colour artwork. However, my colour photographs taken at MAKS 95 in Moscow show a blue/blue-grey/grey scheme - albeit in darker shades than >standard=. I also liked the white/red/blue striped rudders in my photograph and thought that I could now model >Blue 109' that has been seen on the Kuznetsov. Further searching for pictures of >operational= Su-27K=s turned up a photo of >Blue 109' when it appeared at an air show in Gelendzhik - now complete with striped rudders AND an AV-MF flag on the forward fuselage. Having determined which aircraft I was going model I airbrushed it using a new set of Flanker colours from Testors/Model Master, but forsook the light blue and used the medium blue all over, followed by the blue-grey and then areas of light grey as a camouflage pattern. It may not be 100 % accurate, but it looks about right. The nose radome, tailcone, fin tips and aerial in the leading edge of the starboard fin had already been painted gloss white and masked off prior to the application of the camouflage, so it only remained to add red stars in six positions, the red/blue rudder striping from decal sheet, an outline-style Sukhoi logo on the port fin, the AV-MF flag and the codes >Blue 109' to the forward fuselage.
The nose and main undercarriage were cemented in place, as were the canards. The wings were added using the pre-drilled holes and mounting wires. Once I was satisfied that they >sat= correctly, they were super-glued in place. Wing fold detail was added using pieces of sprue and rod to make a representation of the mechanism seen in the accompanying photographs - just enough to make it look >busy= in this scale.
The folded tailplanes were next applied and the canopy added after first cementing the raised decking removed earlier to a plastic card >platform= cemented to the underside of the kit canopy. A short length of plastic rod cemented to the underside of this platform fits into a hole in the fuselage and allows the canopy to be cemented in the raised postion. Weapons pylons were added to the wings prior their fitment and the armament added. This consists of six AA-10 Alamo long-range AAM=s on the engine trunks, inner wings and inboard pylons of the outer wings, plus four AA-11 Archer short-range missiles on the outer and wingtip pylons. On the Su-27K that I photographed at MAKS 95 had red painted AA-10's on the engine trunks, white AA-10's on the wing pylons and orange AA-11's with three black stripes around the body. One of the prototypes seen at Mosaeroshow in 1993 had a massive Reduga >Moskit= (Mosquito) anti-ship missile fitted to a centreline pylon and filling all the space between the engine trunks. Click here for detailed photos of the 'Moskit'. I may get around to scratch-building one to go on my model. The final items to be added are a scratch-built arrestor hook and mounting pylon from square section plastic - (the hook is 30mm long and the pylon 45mm) - , the undercarriage doors and the air data probes to the forward fuselage - note that the smaller probe (kit part 5) is mounted on the forward LERX on the starboard side, not on the port fuselage below the canopy - and a scratch-built refuelling probe.
The finished model looks so different sitting next to its land-based brethren in my Flanker collection - it is just a pity that we may not see them in service for much longer.
Stop Press !! - Latest news is that the Su-27K has >officially= been accepted in Russian Naval service as the Su-33. The Admiral Kuznetsov is also reported to have put to sea following a lengthy lay-up and there are rumours of Sukhoi developing a Su-33KU side-by-side carrier trainer with features of the Su-34 but having a conical radome.
Photos of the real a/c -
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